Uncovering the Secret World of the Plastisphere

February 28th, 2014 @   - 
Marine Biological Laboratory scientist Linda Amaral-Zettler prepares recovered foam floats to be analyzed for Plastisphere microbes.  Credit: Erik Zettler, SEA

Marine Biological Laboratory scientist Linda Amaral-Zettler prepares recovered foam floats to be analyzed for Plastisphere microbes.
Credit: Erik Zettler, SEA

HONOLULU – Scientists are revealing how microbes living on floating pieces of plastic marine debris affect the ocean ecosystem, and the potential harm they pose to invertebrates, humans and other animals. New research being presented here today delves deeper into the largely unexplored world of the “Plastisphere” – an ecological community of microbial organisms living on ocean plastic that was first discovered last year.

When scientists initially studied the Plastisphere, they found that at least 1,000 different types of microbes thrive on these tiny plastic islands, and that they might pose a risk to larger animals, including invertebrates and humans. The original studies also showed that the Plastisphere’s inhabitants included bacteria known to cause diseases in animals and humans.  Read more here.

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